The Political Financiers

Who really funds our electoral process? No, really?

Whenever the subject of political financing comes up, two names inevitably come to mind, the Koch Brothers and George Soros, both of whom are on the opposite ends of the political spectrum.  The Koch Brothers support conservative causes thereby earning them the ire of the left.  Conversely, Soros supports the liberal agenda and attracts criticism from the right.  Both are iconic in terms of their contributions, causing them to be accused of trying to buy the country.  True, they both have deep pockets, but let’s consider the amount of money each side has truly invested.

The Koch Brothers control Koch Industries, Inc. of Wichita, Kansas, the second largest privately held multinational corporation in the United States, which is involved with manufacturing, trading and investments.  Annual revenues are approximately $100 billion.  Charles Koch is the Chairman and CEO, and his brother David is the Executive VP.  Both are considered libertarians.  In fact, David was a Libertarian Vice-Presidential candidate in 1980.  Together, the brothers are worth close to $70 billion.

In recent years, the Koch Brothers have funded conservative think-tanks, political campaigns, and lobbied the government.  They believe in limited government, free enterprise, and personal freedom.  They are also supporters of the Tea Party.  They have been accused of donating more than $100 million to their political agenda, but this is unsubstantiated.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research group in Washington, D.C. which tracks money for politics and lobbying, Koch Industries donated approximately $18 million to conservative causes over the last 25 years; that is $720,000 annually.  According to the Center for Responsive Politics, between 2006-2011 they also spent $50 million to lobby Washington.  In 2016, their company donated $9.1 million to political causes thus far.

It should be noted that Koch Industries has also made generous donations to many non-political programs as well, including education and a variety of charities.  Nevertheless, the Koch Brothers’ political donations cause liberals to label them as “Evil.”

Financier George Soros is originally from Hungary and came to the United States via the United Kingdom.  According to Forbes, his estimated net worth is $24.9 billion, and is listed as the #10 The Highest-Earning Hedge Fund Manager in 2016.  It has been reported that since 1979 Soros has given away $8 billion to various causes, including politics, human rights, public health, and education.

Over the years, Soros has made generous donations to a variety of liberal causes, e.g., $3 million to the Center for American Progress, $2.5 million to MoveOn.org, and $20 million to America Coming Together, all of which were asked to support Democratic causes.  In 2004 he donated $23,581,000 to 527 groups dedicated to defeating President Bush.  Recently, he has supported Hillary Clinton’s candidacy by donating $7 million to the Priorities USA Action super-PAC, and additional funds for the Ready for Hillary campaign.

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If you were to consider the donations of George Soros and the Koch Brothers together, it pales in comparison to the donations given by Labor Unions.  Soros Fund Management is listed as #8 and Koch Industries is listed as #19 on the OpenSecrets.org for 2016, representing a total of $22.8 million in donations.  However, Labor Unions are way ahead of them, representing an accumulative total of over $74.6 million to Democratic politics in 2016.  Such donations make the Koch Brothers contributions seem rather minuscule by comparison.  I wonder if the “rank and file” are aware of this.

Between the campaign donations and the lobbying in Washington, as well as the state capitols, the amount of money spent in this endeavor is mind-boggling, yet this is how our system works.  Imagine how these billions of dollars could be better spent if we simply revised our electoral process.  Some time ago I proposed creating a separate fund whereby for every dollar donated to politics and lobbying, it must be matched and placed into a fund where it would be used to support charitable concerns and improving the nation’s infrastructure.  Undoubtedly, the media would not support this as it would affect advertising revenues, and their power would diminish.  Hmm, sounds like a Win-Win situation to me.

Keep the Faith!

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Tim Bryce is a freelance writer and management consultant located in the Tampa Bay area of Florida. As an avid writer and speaker, Tim discusses everything from business and management, to politics and morality, to systems and technology, and our ever changing world. His columns are educational and entertaining, discussing the things we tend to take for granted or overlook in our walk through life. He has published over a thousand such articles. In addition to his columns, Tim's audio segments are syndicated on the radio and in podcasts. He is also a former correspondent for the Tampa Tribune. As a management consultant, Tim specializes in systems and technology. He has traveled extensively around the world training and supporting a variety of companies of all sizes and shapes, from the boardroom to the trenches. Tim has authored several books on a variety of computer and management related subjects including "The IRM Revolution: Blueprint for the 21st Century" which was on the Top Ten list in Japan, and penned the "PRIDE" Methodologies for IRM." More recently, he published a four volume set entitled, "Bryce’s Uncommon Sense Series." Tim graduated from Ohio University in 1976 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications. His blog can be found at: timbryce.com E-mail: [email protected] Twitter: @timbryce